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Isolationism and Neutrality

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1 Isolationism and Neutrality
American Foreign Policy between World War I and World War II Notes for the Teacher: This image is of a 48-star flag, in use between 1912 and 1959. © Student Handouts, Inc.

2 Isolationism and Neutrality
BASIC DEFINITIONS Isolationism – Neutral with no trade Nation’s foreign policy calls for neither economic nor political ties with other countries Neutrality – Neutral with trade Nation’s foreign policy calls for not taking sides in any international argument, controversy, dispute, or war International trade is okay, so long as it does not involve picking sides in a dispute Notes for the teacher: The idea here is to distinguish between the two concepts. Question to ask students: Has the United States ever been a truly isolationist country?

3 Historical Antecedents
George Washington Proclamation of Neutrality, 1793 No U.S. involvement or aid in the French Revolution Farewell Address, 1796 U.S. should avoid “entangling alliances” James Monroe Monroe Doctrine, 1823 U.S. would leave Europe alone, and Europe should leave the Western Hemisphere alone Notes for the teacher: This is a quick review of early American foreign policy.

4 World War I United States entered the war reluctantly
United States did not enter the war until 1917 Many Americans regretted entering the war Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun Anti-war novel about a WWI soldier who lost his limbs and face, and could communicate only through Morse code by moving his head Published in 1939 – popular and praised by critics United States did not join the League of Nations Notes for teacher: Trumbo’s book is mentioned here because it was warmly received by a pacifist public in 1939, only to later be pulled from printing (at the author’s request) once Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. A look at Trumbo’s life and writing career might make for an interesting discussion about how an individual’s life changes according to the political climate.

5 U.S. Foreign Policy during the Great Depression of the 1930s
1934 1935, 1936, 1937 1937 Federal investigation led by Senator Gerald Nye Senate forbade U.S. membership in the World Court (1935) Japanese invaded China FDR’s quarantine speech – aggressor nations were the world’s disease Question: Why did the U.S. enter World War I? Neutrality Acts (1935, 1936, 1937) permitted only “cash and carry” sales, with no loans or weapons sales, to nations at war Answer: Armament manufacturers and financiers wanted to earn profits. Conclusion: The U.S. should avoid foreign wars.

6 Review Questions What is the difference between isolationism and neutrality? How did George Washington and James Monroe shape early United States foreign policy? How did Americans of the 1930s feel about World War I? How did the United States act to remain neutral during the 1930s?

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